Can a dead man reach out from the grave to exact revenge against those responsible for his death? Welcome to the thirtieth installment of a story that explores that possibility. If you've not done so, read the story from the beginning HERE.
Hunter was about to come out of hiding when the figure appeared seemingly out of nowhere. In the dark of the early evening it appeared to be a floating specter bathed in an eerie blue light. So that was the "ghost" of Soddy-Daisy!
When it stopped moving only then could he tell that there was a human form hidden by the azure glow. A sickening feeling suddenly came over him. Why hadn't he thought of it before? His father had once shown that jacket to him, a couple of years before Eddie had died. He had completely forgotten about it. The churning in his stomach grew stronger and he felt like he was about to spill the contents of his stomach.
The fact that his father might have been connected to that man, left him with but one conclusion. His father, directly or indirectly, must have been involved in the deaths of his friends. But why? He couldn't have known anything about that night.
His mind was racing as he tried to make sense of it all. Of course! His father was chummy with the mayor. Alyson must have shown Mindy's diary to him. He placed his fingers against his temples shaking his head. Was the mayor somehow involved too?
He was startled by Agnes Nolan's scream. He looked up in time to see Jack charging at the man. It happened so fast. Stunned and frightened he froze when Jack fell and was impaled upon the pick. He was emotionless when his wife Tiffany ran to Jack's side. Agnes and Jack knew the man. Who was he?
Jack's breathing was becoming labored and erratic. Even though the pain was excruciating he could feel the tender touch of Tiffany's upon his cheek. He could make out the tracks of the tears pouring from her eyes. He was able to twist his lips into a smile knowing that she loved him and him alone. If he was going to die, then at least he could take that knowledge with him.
Catherine and Marjorie knelt on either side of Tiffany. Her hands shaking, Catherine was trying to activate a cell phone to call for help.
The man lunged forth and grabbed the device from her hand. "No phones! There will be no calls," the menacing figure growled.
"He ... He's dying," Marjorie cried out. "We need to get him to the hospital."
"I said no phones. Look at him ... He's a goner anyway," he snarled at her. He spun around to make sure none of the others had any heroic ideas.
"Who are you and why are you doing this to us?" Tiffany implored.
Agnes took a couple of steps closer and said, "Aren't you going to tell them, George, or should I?"
He began to laugh, the action causing him to cough several times. "Any one else care to volunteer?" He looked down at Jack and turned to Sam, "It seems that Jack has nothing to say. How about you, my old friend?" He raised the gun and aimed it at Sam's head. Sam stood still without flinching a muscle.
"Well now, my old nervous friend has grown some nerve. Hardened no doubt by the passing years. No matter, I'm not going to shoot you." He lowered the gun and turned away. He paused for a moment, whirled around and again raised the weapon, "Later, yes ... Not now."
He began waving the gun at everyone there and herded them into a smaller cluster. "Down on the ground, all of you," he ordered. "That's right, Mayor, make yourself comfortable." He noticed that two of them seemed reluctant. The gun was turned on the pair. "Sit down, Steven!" He then looked at the younger man and added, "You too." There was a momentary puzzled look on his face as the pair joined the others on the ground. He thought he knew everyone present, but he didn't know the younger man.
He cleared his throat, "I guess none of you have an affinity for public speaking. It's funny, I don't mind talking, but you see some years ago I had a rather serious neck injury. My larynx was damaged." He made eye contact with both Sam and Agnes, the latter's stare firing bullets at him.
"Get on with it, Nolan. Stop beating around the bush!" Alyson protested.
In one swift motion the man swung the gun in a looping motion, the barrel striking the Mayor across his forehead. "You were always giving your constituents headaches, Mr. Mayor. How does it feel to be on the receiving end?"
His eyes scanned the group before him. He stifled a cough and grinned, "You know, I'd have thought our honorable Mayor would have preferred that I beat around the bush, as he so metaphorically put it. The longer my story, the longer it would be before I got to the parts that include his involvement in the secret underbelly of Soddy-Daisy."
He rubbed his neck and cleared his throat again before continuing, "Most of you were too young or weren't even born yet back when our little town was just like the one in that "Peyton Place" book." He grinned for effect, "...And make no mistake about it, Soddy-Daisy had its own share of desperate housewives. Isn't that right, Agnes?"
"Go to hell, you monster," she replied.
Marjorie was in shock as she tried to speak to her mother, "Mom? What's he saying?"
George began coughing, the need to laugh bringing discomfort to his throat. "Marjorie, my sweet little Marjorie," he spoke before Agnes could open her mouth. 'Don't you even remember how nice I treated you?"
Her face whitened as the long suppressed memory of his brutal attacks resurfaced. She began to break into uncontrolled trembling sobs as Catherine pulled her into her arms to offer a shoulder on which to cry. She looked up at he man with burning hatred etched on her face, but she dared not speak. That evil man, her own father had molested her too.
Steven was growing restless. He'd heard insinuations that his father had molested both Marjorie and Catherine. What he'd been hearing had confirmed it. He didn't need to be hearing him gloating. Indeed, the girls didn't need to be reliving those nightmares. He chanced a glance in Sam's direction. To Sam's left was Charlie. He knew that they were both waiting for the chance to act. From the corner of his eye he could see that David was clinching his fists.
"Damn it, George," the mayor shouted. "Haven't you hurt the girl enough already?"
He glanced at Alyson with a snarl on his lip, "Why you sanctimonious weasel. You dare cast the first stone?" He was liking the power he held over the pathetic little man. "Would you care to tell the fine people assembled here just how many bedroom windows you crawled through in your day?" Alyson shook his head and lowered his eyes to the ground.
"Ha! Little did you know that I was walking right through your front door when you weren't home," he boasted. The mayor didn't look up. George looked up at the rest and said, "That's right, folks. Mrs. Alyson was one of those desperate housewives."
Hunter was confused. All he'd wanted was to keep Steven Cooper quiet. He just wanted the facts surrounding Eddie Nolan's death to remain secret, bound by the pact they'd made that night. He just wanted Steven to go away.
He was trying to put all the pieces together. First that Dobbs character came into town. Then he learned Dobbs was actually Sam Nolan - Eddie's father! Then Steven arrived. There were the reports of a blue ghost. Then his friends starting dying in those horrible accidents. If all that weren't enough, the "ghost" turns out to be George Cooper? George Cooper, who supposedly hanged himself over twenty years ago had returned from the dead?
No one was supposed to have died. Over there lie his father, dead. There was Jack dying. There was George Cooper airing out the town's dirty laundry. After he finished humiliating them, that same man was going to kill them, all of them. He'd made up his mind. He couldn't let that happen.
David was the first to see Hunter running toward them. At that moment George was unaware of the man's approach from his back. He elbowed Steven and nodded in the direction of Sam and Charlie. Hunter's sudden appearance had given them an opportunity to act.
Steve jumped up and shouted, "NO, Hunter! Go back!"
George spun around and reached for his gun. Being the closest to the man, David rushed forward to tackle the man from behind. Steve and Sam were in motion to hit the man from either side. Charlie lagged slightly behind removing his belt to use as a possible garrote.
With a sudden uncanny display of agility for a man his age, George sidestepped David's diving tackle attempt. Steven ended up grabbing nothing but air. Hunter pulled up just missing a collision with Steven. He stumbled forward and fell to the ground just short of the man's feet. Sam slumped to his knees short of his goal.
George shook his head in disbelief at their botched attempt to grab him. It was almost comical. With his gun aimed at Sam's midsection he began to back away from his would-be tacklers. Suddenly Hunter lashed out his arm and grabbed the man's leg. Sam rushed headlong toward the distracted man.
The gun shot shattered the night and it's echo resounded through the trees. George shook off the hand from his ankle and with his other foot kicked Hunter in the face.
Several meters away Sam was slumped onto his knees clutching his abdomen. He stared defiantly into George's eyes. He struggled to keep his eyes open. His head nodded to his chest. There was a guttural gasp. Sam fell forward face first to the ground. He moved no more.
(To be continued... Echoes of Eddie -31)